Finding Peace: A Life Transformed
When a neighbor and Alameda County employee recommended the yoga teacher training at Niroga's Integral Health Fellowship (IHF) Program to Dee* last year, she decided to try it. Her life was in a state of chaos. "It was one thing after another after another. I wasn't able to process, I was just moving. I kept my feelings in a box."
Dee was twenty-one years old when she gave birth to her son, who is now five. While he was undergoing therapy for his autism, she learned that her son is legally blind and has Chiari, a brain malformation that required him to undergo three major surgeries at the age of two.
The surgeries took place around the same time that Dee's ten-year relationship with the father of her son came to an end. Despite the fact that she felt she could barely take care of herself, she suddenly became a single mother of a child with special needs, "I was in a state of chaos 90% of the time, going to this doctor and that doctor," she admits. "I was depressed and self-destructive. I didn't want to be alone and think about things. I didn't want to see what was really happening."
Dee had enjoyed yoga in the past, but did not keep up her practice because she felt that it was wrong to put herself first. The teacher training, however, brought out her excitement, passion, motivation, and parts of herself that she had not been able to access before. "It was like dying," she says. "I had to let go. If I knew it was going to go as deep as it did, I would have been scared and run the other way."
In spite of the discomfort brought about by so much self-reflection, Dee worked hard on her homework for the training. "I was having to take responsibility and implement the things that I was learning. It was more than homework, it was like going back to the beginning and drawing new conclusions."
Soon after that, both Dee's mother and her mentor were diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery. In the midst of trauma, Dee found solace in her classes. "The program was teaching me the tools to attain peace within myself, amidst anything, amidst chaos. I was learning how to find peace in any situation. Another chaotic situation would arise and I would have to immediately implement the tools I was learning over and over again in order to stay balanced and keep grounded."
Now that she is completing her training, Dee aspires to teach yoga to low-income African Americans. "A lot of African Americans aren't aware of the benefits of yoga. They consider yoga as something for white people. They think 'yoga can't help me.' Because they are raised in an environment where there's a lot of mental illness going on, they don't know there are things that can help them and can alleviate their stress. My way of giving to my community is to bring awareness about these tools that help them cope and give them another outlet, another option, a tool to overcome whatever is going on in their lives."
"I will remember where I came from. That someone believed in me and took a chance on me. I couldn't afford to pay for the program. I want to keep giving back and continue to live it. "
Dee's closest friend is delighted to see the immense positive changes in Dee's life. "I believe this program is an amazing one. Dee has more self-confidence, passion for life, and even more patience. She feels like she is a part of something so special and that makes the wonderful, amazing person and mother she is, even better."
*Not her real name